Samsung’s latest Galaxy Book Pro is a fast and versatile Windows 10 laptop that has a gorgeous-looking OLED screen.
Available as a standard laptop costing from £1,099 ($999) or one with a screen that folds back on itself called the Galaxy Book Pro 360 for an extra £100 ($200). It is the successor to 2020’s Galaxy Book Flex and follows a similar theme: good 13.3in screen, 360-degree folding hinge and thin metal body available in a distinctive royal blue colour.
The body of the Pro 360 has lost a little of the visual flourish of the Flex. But the new machine makes up for it with an upgraded OLED screen instead of the LCD technology common to most laptops. This gives it greatly improved contrast, inky blacks and vibrant colours similar to the best smartphones.
The 13.3in screen looks great, but is only full HD (1080p) resolution making it slightly less crisp than rivals with higher resolution displays. It also has a traditional widescreen (16:9) ratio making it fantastic for TVs and movies but less useful for work by being a bit short of height compared with more square screen ratios such as those of the Surface Laptop 4 or MacBook Air.
The large, smooth and precise trackpad is good and the keyboard has been improved with well-spaced and responsive keys. Both are fairly noisy and the keys have only a shallow depth when pressed. Good, but not quite best in class.
Both 13.3in Galaxy Book Pro versions come with the same 11th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, except for the 4G model that comes with a 256GB SSD only.
The new chip comes with Intel’s much-improved Xe integrated graphics and is faster all-round on paper, although generally not appreciably so compared with the well-performing previous generation. Performance was very good for a general computing device and it ran fairly quietly with the fans only audible when doing something more intensive when used on battery. Plug it in, and the fans ran almost constantly, however.
A Samsung utility can turn down the fan noise to “silent” or completely off by reducing performance.
Battery life was slightly above average for Intel-based PCs, lasting just under nine hours of work between charges, but some way behind the 16-hour battery life of the Apple MacBook Air. That was with the brightness set to 70% with recommended battery settings, using Chrome, Evernote, Typora and several messaging apps, plus some light image editing in Affinity Photo.
The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is repairable by authorised service centres in the UK. Samsung rates the battery for at least 1,000 full charge cycles while still maintaining at least 80% capacity. Samsung also has battery lifespan-extending options on the laptop, such as those that limit the maximum charge to 85% to prolong its useful life.
The battery can be replaced out of warranty by authorised service providers. The laptop is not made from any recycled materials and while Samsung offers trade-in and recycling schemes for other devices, but not yet for laptops. Samsung company-wide sustainability reports but not breakdowns for individual products.
Windows 10 Home
The Pro and Pro 360 ship with Windows 10 Home in the UK, with a few useful Samsung apps and tools installed. It also ships with McAfee Livesafe installed, which having experienced problems with in the past I uninstalled immediately, reverting to the built-in Windows Defender for anti-virus protection.
The laptop is eligible for a free update to Windows 11 on release in the autumn.
Using the laptop was generally trouble free. The fingerprint scanner worked great for logging into Windows and the various utilities were handy, including those for the stylus and the Bluetooth sync system that automatically connected a set of Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds. But I had issues with Windows Mail crashing with my work Google email account and getting the laptop to sleep properly when plugged in.
The glossy screen is very reflective, meaning glare can be an issue in some lighting conditions.
The screen suffers from so-called “jelly scroll” when used in portrait orientation, a problem common to large OLED touchscreen devices where one side of the screen reacts faster than the other when you drag your finger on it to scroll the page.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro is a thin, light and attractive Windows 10 PC with the latest Intel chips.
In its Pro 360 form , it is a versatile device that can pull double duty as a tablet with stylus and can be propped up in multiple ways to suit your environment, whether for movie-watching or getting work done.
The OLED screen is the star of the show, beating regular LCD competitors on colour and contrast, while being bright enough for most environments. It isn’t quite as sharp as some, though, and its wide-screen ratio is better suited to movies than work.
About nine hours of battery life is good for an Intel-powered machine, but pales into comparison to the market-leader, Apple’s 16-hour MacBook Air. The Samsung suffers from sleep issues and fairly constant fan noise when plugged in, which hopefully will get fixed with software updates.
The world’s biggest tech companies are coming out with bold commitments to tackle their climate impact but when it comes to using their corporate muscle to advocate for stronger climate policies, their engagement is almost nonexistent, according to a new report.
Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook and Microsoft poured about $65m into lobbying in 2020, but an average of only 6% of their lobbying activity between July 2020 and June 2021 was related to climate policy, according to an analysis from the thinktank InfluenceMap, which tracked companies’ self-reported lobbying on federal legislation.
The report also sought to capture tech companies’ overall engagement with climate policy by analyzing activities including their top-level communications as well as lobbying on specific legislation. It found that climate-related engagement levels of three of the five companies – Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft – had declined compared to the previous year.
Tech companies, which have some of the deepest pockets in corporate America, have been racing to come out with increasingly ambitious climate pledges. Amazon has a target to be net zero by 2040 and to power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, and Facebook has a target of net zero emissions for its entire supply chain by 2030.
In 2020, Microsoft pledged to become carbon negative by 2030 and by 2050 to have removed all the carbon the company has ever emitted. Apple has committed to become carbon neutral across its whole supply chain by 2030.
And Google has pledged to power its operations with 100% carbon-free energy by 2030, without using renewable certificates to offset any fossil-generated power. “The science is clear, we have until 2030 to chart a sustainable course for our planet or face the worst consequences of climate change,” the Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, said in a video announcing the policy.
Yet this strong pro-climate rhetoric is not being matched by action at a policy level, according to the report. “These gigantic companies that completely dominate the stock market are not really deploying that political capital at all,” said the InfluenceMap executive director, Dylan Tanner.
Tech companies have not been entirely silent. Apple, for example, has expressed support for the Biden administration’s proposed clean energy standard, which aims for all US-generated electricity to be renewable by 2035.
But these efforts are significantly outweighed by those of big oil and gas companies, which have ramped up their climate lobbying over the same timeframe, according to the report. “Most of their political advocacy is devoted to climate change and it’s negative,” said Tanner.
A lack of engagement is especially disappointing given the new momentum around climate action under the Biden administration, said Bill Weihl, a former Facebook and Google sustainability executive and now executive director of Climate Voice, which mobilizes tech workers to lobby their companies on climate action. “The dominant business voice on these issues is advocating against the kind of policies that we need,” he said.
Joe Biden’s $3.5tn budget reconciliation bill, which includes large investments for climate action, is facing fierce opposition from some industry groups. The US Chamber of Commerce, the country’s most powerful business lobbying group, has said it will “do everything we can to prevent this tax raising, job killing reconciliation bill from becoming law”. All of the tech companies, with the exception of Apple, are members of the Chamber.
“Our best chance to lead the planet to safety in the race against climate change is through this reconciliation bill, yet InfluenceMap has shown that big tech is still MIA on climate in Congress,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and longtime advocate for climate legislation.
Microsoft and Apple declined to comment on the report and Alphabet did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Amazon said the company engages at local, state and international levels to “actively advocate for policies that promote clean energy, increase access to renewable electricity, and decarbonize the transportation system”.
A Facebook spokesperson said “we’re committed to fighting climate change and are taking substantive steps without waiting for any legislative action”, adding that the company supports the Paris climate agreement goals and helped found the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.
But these actions are not enough given the scale of the crisis, said Tanner. The UN warned in a report published on Friday that even if current climate emissions targets are met, the world is still on a “catastrophic pathway” for 2.7C of heating by the end of the century. “We’re running out of time,” Tanner said, “physically on climate but also on a public policy level.”
TechUK – the UK’s digital trade association representing computer giants and start-ups alike – has called on firms to check their green credentials and make sure they stand up to scrutiny.
The warning comes as UK businesses were told to brush up on their eco-claims or risk public humiliation and enforcement action by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Businesses have until the New Year to make sure their environmental claims – such as those regarding energy consumption, packaging, recycling, and product lifecycle assessments – comply with the law and are not simply an exercise in greenwashing.
As part of its efforts to steer companies, the CMA has published a six-point Green Claims Code in a bid to make it clear that anyone spouting eco-friendly claims “must not omit or hide important information” and “must consider the full life cycle of the product.”
The CMA is targeting sectors that some onlookers may regard as low hanging fruit including textiles and fashion, energy-hungry travel and transport, and fast-moving consumer goods.
However, any sector and the companies that operate within it – including tech – could fall within the CMA’s crosshairs.
In a statement, Andrea Coscelli, chief exec of the CMA, said: “We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve. Any business that fails to comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could face action from the CMA.”
However, there are worries the new rules may lead to confusion. In its evidence to the CMA, techUK said the six principles set out in the guidance were “not specific enough” and also called for more information to help tech firms. It also warned that different variables made in lifecycle assessments could lead to misleading results [PDF].
In a statement, Susanne Baker, associate director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability, techUK, told us: “The CMA’s guidance is important for any company making a green claim about their services, products and company. With more green claims being made by the tech sector than ever before, it’s absolutely vital that these aren’t deemed to be greenwashing.
“Firms have until the new year to address this and will need to think carefully about any green claim they make, be sure they can substantiate them, that they aren’t misleading, and are truthful and accurate,” she said.
The CMA announced that it was investigating the impact of green marketing on consumers last year when it found that 40 per cent of green claims made online could be misleading – suggesting that thousands of businesses could be breaking the law.
Amazon recently found itself fending off a whistle-blower’s claims alleging it dumped unsold goods to landfill, and later bragged that it had achieved lower carbon “intensity” in its business practices. The latter claim was shot down by an unimpressed scientist close to The Reg who remarked that the fact Amazon’s business was growing was not “helpful to Earth”, and the fact it polluted less per unit of activity didn’t change the bottom line “which is that they are polluting more this year than they did last year.”
Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced the electric car maker will stop accepting Bitcoin payments for its vehicles, due to the “increasing use” of fossil fuels, particularly coal, to support Bitcoin’s electricity-hungry mining and transaction processing.
An Intel sponsored report by non-profit Resilience First, highlighted in June the role of tech in reaching net-zero carbon emission goals. However, making chips has been a dirty business, with a 2002 study concluding that a single 2g semiconductor chip required a whopping 1.6kg of secondary fossil fuels and 72g of chemical inputs to be put into production. ®
The data integration business growing its EMEA HQ in Dublin is set for further expansion following a $5.6bn valuation and key acquisition.
Silicon Valley-headquartered Fivetran has announced $565m in Series D funding alongside a deal to acquire HVR.
This latest funding round sees the automated data integration provider’s value reach $5.6bn just over a year after it first reached unicorn status.
The funding round from new and existing investors included General Catalyst, CEAS Investments and Matrix Partners. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, which also brought in new investors Iconiq Capital, D1 Capital Partners and YC Continuity.
In total, Fivetran has raised $730m to date. And in tandem with its Series D funding round, the company also announced a $700m cash and stock deal to acquire data replication business HVR.
‘Without an always-on, accurate and reliable way to centralise data, global organisations aren’t maximising the use of data or data infrastructure’ – MARTIN CASADO, A16Z
For Fivetran’s mission to help businesses make use of the data they have, in a way that is quicker and requires fewer resources, HVR brings database replication performance along with enterprise-grade security.
“HVR is a recognised leader for enterprise database replication and shares our same vision – to make access to data as simple and reliable as electricity,” said Fivetran CEO George Fraser. “Their product is the perfect complement to our automated data integration technology and will be instrumental for us to help enterprise organisations that want to improve their analytics with a modern data stack.”
Fraser added that the latest injection of funding from investors will enable the company to expand its capabilities and accelerate its global growth.
Fivetran established its EMEA HQ in Dublin in 2018. The following year, fresh investment saw the company plan to double its Irish workforce. Last summer, a $100m funding round saw these expansion plans furthered.
In terms of market opportunity, Andreessen Horowitz general partner Martin Casado says Fivetran is a “critical component” of the modern data stack, which represents “a paradigm shift for global enterprises, with billions of dollars of revenue at stake”.
“Without an always-on, accurate and reliable way to centralise data, global organisations aren’t maximising the use of data or data infrastructure,” said Casado.
The acquisition deal has been approved by the boards of both companies and is expected to close in early October, subject to regular approvals.
Customers from both companies are expected to benefit from each of the business offerings. On the side of Fivetran, this client list includes Autodesk, DocuSign, Forever 21, Lionsgate and Square, while HVR services dozens of Fortune 500 brands.
“Combining HVR and Fivetran will enable a next-generation solution that will better inform business decisions by providing the freshest data available,” said HVR CEO Anthony Brooks-Williams.
“We’re thrilled to be joining forces with Fivetran and look forward to what this incredible opportunity will provide for our growing team, partners and customers.”
Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.